How To Make Hainanese Kaya

Updated: Jun 28, 2020

It is always a long debate between Hainanese and Nyonya Kaya. Nyonya Kaya is made up of coconut milk, eggs, palm sugar and pandan juice. Yes, pandan juice is what gives the kaya that iconic green color. Color aside, the texture differs too. Nyonya Kaya tends to be a bit crumbly and rough while Hainanese Kaya is a very smooth and silky spread. What makes Hainanese Kaya stand out is that it has a dark caramel aftertaste which lingers at the back of your mouth.

If you want a separate post just for the Nyonya Kaya, please let me know. The process is pretty similar tho, just that you probably need another helping hand to stir the kaya while you are making the caramel. Be warned, this is a long process of standing, whisking and stirring. But, nothing beats a homemade kaya! If you up for the challenge, let's get started.


(Make 1 jar)

  • Kaya:

  • Eggs, 5

  • Palm Sugar Finely Chopped, 300g

  • Coconut Cream, 200g

  • Pandan Leaves Tied Into Knot, 5 Leaves

  • Caramel:

  • Granulated Sugar, 60g

  • Water, 17g

  • Cream of Tartar, Pinch

  • Unsalted Butter, 20g

  • Sea Salt, Pinch



  1. Prepare the kaya.

  2. Prepare a double boiler.

  3. Before turning the heat on, add eggs onto the double boiler.

  4. Using a whisk, Lightly whisk the eggs in a singular direction.

  5. Add in palm sugar and lightly whisk in a singular direction to combine.

  6. Whisk until most of the sugar has dissolved.

  7. Add in coconut cream.

  8. Lightly whisk in a singular direction to combine.

  9. Add in pandan leaves.

  10. Turn the heat up to medium low.

  11. Continue lightly whisking every 5 mins for a period of 30 to 40 mins or until the color turns light brown.

  12. *Check occasionally if there’s enuff water in the double boiler, add more water if needed.*

  13. *Once the kaya has turned light brown in color, you will require a helping hand in whisking the kaya while you are making the caramel.*

  14. Prepare the caramel.

  15. In a heavy sauce pot, add sugar, water and cream of tartar.

  16. Place the pot over medium-high heat.

  17. Swirl the pot to dissolve the sugar.

  18. *Do not stir with a spatula, it will cause the sugar to crystallize.*

  19. Dip a pastry brush in water and brush the side of the pot to prevent the sugar from crystallizing.

  20. If you have a candy thermometer, bring the temperature up to 120 degree celsius or 250 fahrenheit.

  21. If you do not have a candy thermometer, keep an eye on the sugar syrup.

  22. As soon as the sugar starts to turn amber, immediately remove from heat.

  23. Immediately add in butter.

  24. *Do not be tempted to stir the mixture.*

  25. Return the pot back to the stove.

  26. Add in salt and swirl the pot to combine well.

  27. As soon as it is at the saucy consistency, immediately remove from heat.

  28. Gradually, while still whisking the kaya, pour the caramel into the kaya.

  29. Still lightly whisking in a singular direction to combine well.

  30. Remove from heat.

  31. Allow it to cool slightly and transfer into a sterilized jar.

  32. *It can keep up for 3 months in the fridge.*

  33. You can spread the kaya on some toasts or as a dipping sauce for some toast soldiers.


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